Desire Mapping 101: Soulful Goal-Setting For Cosmic Babes With Moxie
Soulless goals used to be my middle name. I was a chronic “self-hacker.” Every New Years, I had a hardcore, caffeinated goal-setting session. By the end of the year, I’d have a few prizes & earned a couple pats on the back. Then I’d spend the night alone finishing off a pint of ice cream with Netflix. Chronic dissatisfaction.
I thought living intentionally meant living for my intentions. Which were always about winning; proving myself.
But the prizes in-of themselves? Pointless. Tchotchke achievements.
Most of what I’ve gotten, I’ve given away. Getting was what it was about.
So, what if intentional living didn't include a to-do list? What if the glory was all about feeling how we want to feel, instead of doing what looks "right" to do?
I read Danielle LaPorte's book, The Desire Map, over New Year's, & am about 1 month into Desire Mapping my life. It's splendid. This is inspirational self-growth with a method: naming what you want to feel, then letting craven desire lead you put you on the path of least resistance. It's not about ticking things off your to-do list, but doing things that will make you feel exactly how you want to feel--regardless of how you get there.
My Desire Mapping revelation: Soul-satisfaction is shockingly banal. As opposed to intense goal-setting, where timing, execution, & strategy play starring roles, satisfying your core desires is sweetly simple.
As it turns out, feeling is the core of intentional living. Feelings are subjective facts. Like Danielle LaPorte tells it: “Feelings are neither facts of what actually happened nor of a shared reality. They are indicators of your personal reality. The material facts may be disputable, but the fact that you feel a certain way is not. And that fact is very, very important.”
“I take my desires for reality, because I believe in the reality of my desires.” —the Paris Commune, 1966
The Desire Map is broken up between theory & worksheets. You can skip the theory & just get your hands on the workbooks, but the book itself has so much sweet, bright guidance, you’ll be glad to have it. I used the book & jotted down my answers in a diary.
This is what you’re trying to figure out: What’s the language of your soul cry?
Then, How can I satisfy my soul?
I CRAVE… money, people, superfoods, space, light, truth, the right to be my snobbish self, creativity, focus, boundaries, solitude, a red leather jacket, self-respect, the coast, sunshine + public transportation, to order in, to make the iron hot by striking, airports, to start over, to tie off loose ends, the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, sweetness & brightness, blog fame, cashing checks, to build my work studio
Let me show you the Desire Mapping basics & how I went at them. It's deeper & more complex than I can show you, but you'll be able to at least get a feel for how it works.
Oh, & this is a peek into the territory of my true-life desires & how I mapped it. So, be cool.
STEP 1: HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?
The Desire Map organizes life into these categories:
LIVELIHOOD & LIFESTYLE • BODY & WELLBEING • CREATIVITY & LEARNING • RELATIONSHIPS & SOCIETY • ESSENCE & SPIRITUALITY.
You can use D’s categories or create your own.
“Anything goes. Get abstract or specific. Do you want to feel spicy or electric? Do you want to feel ten different ways of confident? Then just write it down. Close your eyes & tune in. Let your wanted feelings flow freely. Do not censor yourself. Go deep, yet keep it light.”
For each area of your life, you’ll simply finish the sentence: I want to feel…
Your answers must be automatic, sense-based, & deeply subjective. You don’t have to translate your answers for mass consumption--the more personally evocative, the better.
I spent about 45 mins on this section altogether, jumping back & forth between categories. You might require less time. This part of the process was like making sand art: I knew my answers weren’t going to hang in a museum or anything, but I still wanted a fully-developed picture of what’s in my heart.
LIVELIHOOD & LIFESTYLE: I want to feel… like champagne, the ankh, wearing tiaras in a bubble bath during conference calls, Camelot, tranquility & playfulness; prerogative + influence
BODY & WELLBEING: I want to feel… like a twinkly, melty, creamy, molten-hot, & glow-y goddess girl; I want to feel a 24-hour-a-day smile curling inside each & every one of my cells, like a biological cocktail of self-love; like shakti-nectar is pouring through me fasting than I can move; gym bunny; superfood smorgasbord; Cleopatra
CREATIVITY & LEARNING: I want to feel… like a contagious genius; like a hunk of wizard’s stone glinting upon the altar; like a powerhouse: constant synthesis + integration; I want to feel like the chorus to MGMT’s “Electric Feel”
RELATIONSHIPS & SOCIETY: I want to feel… that roses bloomed where I was just standing in your life; I want friendships to feel like kismet; I want to Tank Girl psychological prisons; I want to be the love push that gets people over the hump; I want to move like the deluge of starlight that works out our collective existential kinks
ESSENCE & SPIRITUALITY: I want to feel… like a hunk of rainbow moonstone; like night blooming jasmine in Grandmother’s backyard; revelation like a sob escaping at the end of a good book; I want to feel like rose gold, like an angel finally released from the marble
STEP 2: GET INSIDE THE WORDS. LOOK UP THE DEFINITIONS OF THE WORDS YOU WROTE DOWN.
Now that you've got enough to play with, parse key words into every finial crevasse of insinuative meaning they can be broken down into.
If you’re following along at home, this is where you’ll discover those cherished words describing your core desired feelings. Get poetic, detailed, lyrical.
“Every word is its own world. Dig deeper. When you read the actual definitions, do the words take on a new, or more powerful, meaning to you? Do they feel more masculine or feminine? What nuances are in the worlds that you relate to? Do the origins of certain words inspire or repel you? Do you have a positive or negative history with the word?”
My first compulsion was to transcribe exact definitions--even what sounded bored, plain, or pedestrian. That's anti-desire. You're not doing homework. I went back at it & only copied down snippets of word origins, definitions, & the synonyms that made me go ahhh. I mind-mapped the words in my diary, with squiggles & bubbles & arrows spurting out from the root words.
- champagne, noun: sparkling white wine from the south of France; golden & luxurious
- twinkly, verb: to shine with a flickering gleam of light, as a star or distant light. twinkle, noun: a scintillating brightness in the eyes
- infinite, adjective: having no boundaries or limits in time, space, extent, or magnitude
- wizard, genius, Latin origin: tutelary deity or genius of a person; demiurge, Greek origin: a worker for the people
- sweetness, synonyms: melodious, mellifluous; winning, lovable, & charming; mellifluous, adjective: sweetly or smoothly flowing
STEP 3: MAKE YOUR FIRST PICKS. REVIEW YOUR WORDS & CIRCLE THE ONES THAT MOST RESONATE.
Select 10 or fewer words from the barrage you've unloaded onto the page.
Once you have your first picks, build a whole immersive scene based on each word feels like for you. Answer these questions:
- What does it feel like to be [insert word]?
- What does it look like to be [insert word]?
- What does it sound like to be [insert word]?
- If I were [insert word], what would my life be like?
- What’s [insert word] really about for me?
In Goddess Magic, we'd call this creating a phantasm. The more sensually vivid you can make your fantasies, the more primally you activate them in a ritual.
And what's primal is primary. Building this scene is about seeding & watering the words associated with your desires dig into your psyche. This section harmonizes conscious definition with intuitive knowing.
What does it feel like to be INFINITE? White hot starlight. Clarified. Aware. Turned on. Unfolding.
What does INFINITE look like? Prismatic. Tidy. Breathable. Upward & spreading.
What is INFINITE really about for me? Soul-memory. Moments of clarity. When Charlie says, "I feel infinite." (For nerds: The Perks of Being A Wallflower.)
STEP 4: PATTERN RECOGNITION. PREPARING TO HOME IN.
Find patterns. Examine your wording. Analyze unconscious expectations you've placed on your wording. This is the space for reading into how & why you phrase your desires in the way you do. This step precludes how you'll map your life around satisfying your desires.
How much responsibility are you placing on the outside world to make you feel your core-desired feels?
D. uses these 2 examples: “I want to feel loved” vs. “I want to feel love.” The former depends on an external influencer to make you feel your core desired feeling. Not a good position to be in. The latter empowers you. You're in control of feeling what you want to feel.
Desire Mapping is about making empowered choices. You deserve to feel the way you want to feel! But it's not on anyone else to make you feel it.
Thus, proper Desire Mapping depends on I Am statements: I am sparkling, golden, twinkling. I am lit up & feel hot to the touch. I am a demiurgic genius with a huge slice of bliss.
STEP 5: MAKE YOUR FINAL PICKS —> CHOOSE 3-5 CORE DESIRED FEELINGS.
Okay, I told you: This is inspirational self-help with a method. Half of Desire Mapping is nailing down exactly how you're going to create your core desires every day.
You map the territory of your desires, then map your life around satisfying those desires. You've built whole phantasms around your core desires, psychoanalyzed your word choice & phrasing, & now you're reading to live by the poetry of your soul.
By this point, I'd soaked 10+ diary pages in rainbow highlighter ink. This was an inelegant process; creative, enthused, & intimate, like planning a romantic celebration with a speechless client for an extravaganza that would unfold in simple, conscientious moments throughout the rest of the year.
Here on, moxie comes into play.
So, what are you going to do to feel the way you want to feel?
DLaPorte provides the prompt, you supply the answers. It'll be on you to structure your life where you can satisfy your desires.
Once you know what you need to feel the way you want to feel, all your attention snaps to it. Step 4 showed how you can better claim your power in getting after your desires. It's not a white-knuckled, triumphant process. Each occasion you create to satisfy the desire has the power of melting away time & anxiety.
And when you feel sweet & flow-y, your To-Dos appear to check themselves off your list.
If I want to feel LAVISH in my body, then I want to.... (do, experience, & have)
- Perfect my Cleopatra cat-eye & also applying falsies
- Juicy full moon ritual baths
- Green smoothies, no excuses
- Sweat, coconut oil moisturizer, sweat
- Meditate wearing gold jewelry & peacock ore
- Poise, darling, poise
- Drink pink champagne on date night
If I want to feel GENIUS in my creativity, then I want to.... (do, experience, & have)
- Make writing the backbone of my life
- Score that columnist gig--pitch today
- Harmonize "prolific" with "perfectionistic"
- Draft 1 article daily / polish another
- Bend time like a wizard
- Read Rumi, Rilke, & H.D. in the morning
Do the same for your other 2-4 core-desired feelings in all the other categories. This took me more than 2 days to fully put down & honestly, I'm still tweaking my answers.
However, as I play with my answers, I find myself actually doing what I said I was going to do to feel LAVISH, GENIUS, etc.
OTHER SHOCKINGLY BANAL WAYS TO CREATE A SOUL-SATISFYING LIFE:
Appreciate where, when, & with who you already feel your core desired feelings. Every night, I diary. Since reading The Desire Map, I've logged when I've created my desired feelings or when they've unfolded all on their own. After 1 month, it feels as if they're unfolding a lot more simply than ever before. No push. Just satisfaction.
Instate weekly & monthly check-ins. Set reminders on your phone. Tape index cards of your desires into your planner. If all it takes is a pedicure once or twice a month to make you feel lavish & pretty, then plug it in first, & schedule & budget around it.
Build the support. Who can help you live your core desires? Who’s close at hand? Is there a professional, a product, or a service out there who can help? What about your Patron Goddess? Any saints or angels or muses to encourage you? And how about any personalities or living legends? Have they written a book, created a course, or put anything out there that you can use for inspo or that can actually help you feel your core desires in the mo’?
And perhaps the most crucial question:
How can you put yourself out there? How can you start attracting more of that core-desired feeling? What can you do on a daily, weekly, & monthly basis to snowball that feeling, so you're eventually soaking in it?
RESOURCES FOR DESIRE MAPPING YOUR LIFE:
- Visit the Desire Map graphic maker to make a Pinterest, Insta, iPhone, & desktop backgrounds sportin' your core-desired feels (see mine above)
- Crave quotable inspo? Check out all the D’s quotes about desire.
- Capture an image of _______. (Your core desired feeling. Here’s an actual prompt + an example for the core desired feeling of joy.)
So, are you going to pick up The Desire Map? I’ve linked you several times to Danielle’s online shop, where you can score your copy. Btw, these are affiliate links—if you make a purchase while there, I get a little coin (at no extra cost to you).
If you DO order The Desire Map via one of my links, send me a note! I have a little goody to enliven your journey unto the mad, beautiful feels.
(Or whatever your core-desired feels may be.)
Your infinitely lavish, sweetly-bright genius,